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Where does Drew Stanton need to improve the most?

The Arizona Cardinals season hangs on their back up quarterback, who has waited his whole career for this opportunity. Where does he need to improve in order to give the Cardinals the best chance to win?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There's little doubt that the Cardinals were dealt another of a series of body blows with Carson Palmer re-injuring his already repaired ACL. The cries on Sunday from half of the Cardinals fanbase was deafening, "It's over" "There's no way we can win a Super Bowl now" were two of the many I saw on Sunday.

The reality is the Cardinals have an uphill battle to climb to the top of the NFL, more so than they did with a health Carson Palmer if you are relying on offense to win you games.

Of course, this iteration of the Cardinals was winning games despite an often inefficient offense.

When you look at what the Cardinals did under Palmer in 2014 (we'll include Sunday because he threw 40 passes on the day so it was a full days work), the numbers are good, if not misleading, but they are something that Stanton needs to strive towards.

Yards per game passing: 271 (seventh)
Touchdown % passing: 4.9 (ninth)
Yards per game rushing: 84.5 (29th)
Points Per Game: 25.8 (11th)

Palmer and the Cardinals throw the ball about the eighth or ninth most in the NFL, Stanton throws the ball in the 20's when he is under center.

The Cardinals attempt eight fewer passes a game when Stanton is under center, but they throw the ball down field an astonishing 47 percent, compared to Palmer at 37 percent (downfield being 10+ yards in the air).

That should come down, like Palmer's percentage of throws did last year, with comfort playing in the system, as opposed to knowing the system.

Stanton has been in Coach Arians' offense for almost three seasons now, but he's thrown only 93 passes, so he tends to go for the shots that Arians wants, not the play that keeps a drive going.

Look at Palmer in 2013 to start the season, he was taking a lot of shots deep through the first seven games, that's what he was asked to do in the offense, but he left a lot of yards and completions on the field because of it. As he has gotten more comfortable, he has begun to lean on the shorter, quicker routes.

Palmer throws 62 percent of his passes less than 10 yards in the air (including behind the line of scrimmage); Stanton is throwing only 53% of his passes in that range.

The biggest difference is Palmer lives fat off of working outside the hash marks,  completing 67 percent of his passes for 661 yards and 5 touchdowns with no interceptions for a quarterback rating of 103.5. Stanton has completed 43 percent for 250 yards and no touchdowns with a 62.6 quarterback rating.

Palmer has better bulk numbers throwing in between the hashes, 968 yards and six touchdowns, but all three of his interceptions have come over the middle of the field, while his completion rate dips to 61% and his quarterback rating drops to 90.3. Stanton meanwhile over the middle is a 55% passer for 364 yards and three touchdowns, while posting a good 97.2 passer rating.

In the NFL, you have to make money working outside the hashes.

You have to live to throw another day taking check downs.

Stanton has to find a way to improve on these key aspects of his game and if he does, then the Palmer injury should not matter.